Aug 31, 2004

A Poem for IMCs from Zack de La Rocha

To Indymedia centers around the world
Written 08/31/04 in NYC as police surround
peaceful protesters in front of Fox News.

Eyes Upon The Eyes

Your the eyes upon the eyes
and upon the battons
that pound voices and bones
that erase memories of home

Your the eyes upon the eyes
in the days before the fall
your the eyes upon the eyes
that are watching us all

To witness the barricades and
the wire they place around our hearts
your document is proof that
there is a fire in the dark

Your the eyes upon the eyes
in the days before the fall
and it's your eyes that stop
their lies from burying us all

-Zack de La Rocha

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Aug 29, 2004

Electronic Civil Disobedience... what movement are we talking about?

OK.. so these folks are doing some work in the name of solidarity with the anti-RNC work happening in NYC this week. I can dig that, but I don't know - I don't really agree with who they are donating to, especially the Sierra Club, who are just really not hip to immigrant rights issues in the United States (and while it's ok for groups to stick to their issues, it's not ok for them to start targeting specific issues that are outside of their scope based on some internal xenophobic, racist agenda.

So... I have a couple of issues there. Why are you giving to these groups when you should be giving to something more directly related to the actions in NYC like rally sponsors United for Peace and Justice, the Blue Triangle Network, A.N.S.W.E.R., or something similar?

So it seems to be somewhat misguided, once again. Or perhaps another case of doing something in the name of a group or set of groups, but really meeting the end objective of a boast-worthy direct action or civil disobedience that can serve as a pretty feather in your cap. If you can't tell already, I have mixed feelings about unguided acts of chaos, disorder, or shuffling the status quo. Though anarchy has its merits to bring us some kind of new order after being stuck in a rut for too long (let's face it, we all get a little too comfortable), it also can get to the point where the end goal is ultimately just chaos, and that may be ok for folks who want to think of nothing else in the world, or have no responsibilities, but what about the rest of us?

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Aug 27, 2004

Track what's been happening

Critcal Mass took to and over the streets tonight - estimates have been marked at 10,000 riders. As expected, there's been nothing on the network news channels, so I've been trying to follow via the internet. There are a few great sites to keep in mind.

First, there is up to the minute updating happening at:


Then - if you want to see streaming camera images (and in some cases, video) of different sites in NYC: NYC DOT

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UK's Amir Khan boxes on; China Claims 2 Historic Golds

Britain's Amir Khan could become the youngest Olympic boxing champion in 52 years after assuring himself of at least a lightweight silver medal.

The 17-year-old continued his startling progress in Athens by beating Serik Yeleuov of Kazakhstan 40-26 on points in a stunning semi-final victory.

Wow - this is just amazing. I heard about an "Indian boxer" but didn't realize that it was a South Asian briton, or that he was moving this far into the competition - I think that he's guaranteed at least a Silver now, and if he goes gold... what a cool story!

In other Olympic news... click this picture to see why he's so happy!

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Chinatown Youth Take to the Streets

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Speaking of Dissent...

The madness has begun: Naked activists,
Bush-bashing rappellers and drum-thumping, tie-dye-
wearing marchers unleashed a torrent of wacky and
daring civil disobedience yesterday.

Earlier, at 9 a.m., a group of four anti-Bush demonstrators calling themselves "Operation Sibyl" climbed onto the roof of The Plaza hotel and unfurled a giant sign that said "Truth" and "Bush" written on arrows painted in opposite directions.
(Click the pix for different stories)

Oh man - it is gonna be quite a fun time this weekend. I can't believe that our camera isn't working. It's almost reason enough, on its own, to buy a new camera just for the weekend and ensuing activities this week. However, the tone of this article reminds me that there really isn't a strong liberal voice in the mainstream press of New York anymore. Again - if this is what the Daily News is saying, what's the Post got to say??? Let's check it out...

Nope. Nothing there either about what's going on. At least not on the cover.

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Swift Boat Veterans for Themselves

There are actually two op-eds in the Times today from this side of the aisle concerning Kerry's record. What we're seeing in these attack ads and in the Veterans who stepped forward to say what the Administration needed them to say is the old-school "serve-thy-nation and ask no questions" mentality getting an opportunity to have the last pull in a supposed tug-of-war between those who served and believed that the war was unjust and those who served and still supported the government's decisions, perhaps because otherwise, they would experience a crisis in trying to reconcile all that they witnessed and did in Viet Nam with the true goals of the U.S. administrations in power at the time. This controversy now is their attempt to say "you blew the whistle and disgraced the soldiers who served and those who died in actions that we can't be sure weren't noble, and now we're gonna get you back." It's a sad day when someone's decision to dissent becomes the reason to vilify him.

New York Times
August 27, 2004

When Actions Speak Louder Than Medals

Chicago — When I came back from Vietnam, I always thought that the next argument was going to be between those who went overseas and those who stayed at home. But it turns out that the big argument now is between those veterans who thought the war was right and those who didn't. And further, it is amazing to me that the argument should revolve around medals and Purple Hearts and honorable service.

The plain fact is that in Vietnam medals were handed out like popcorn, right down to the Good Conduct Medal and the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge, particularly among career-minded officers and NCO's. Ticket-punching lifers, we called them with all the derision that the phrase implies; they seemed more interested in tending their precious careers than anything else.

I know officers who were given the Bronze Star for simply being in country (the ultimate in merit badges). An Air Force pilot told me that his commanding officer suggested that he write himself up for a Distinguished Flying Cross on no particular account, and that he, the commander, would sign it. To his credit, my friend did not do so. By the same token, a writer friend of mine keeps his Bronze Star to prove to his children and grandchildren that despite what they may hear about Vietnam, he acted the way an adult is supposed to act, with compassion and grit, and that if he is not especially proud of his service in Vietnam, he's not ashamed of it, either.

Regardless of career ambitions, there were officers and NCO's who understood the unvarnished reality of the war, and made no bones about it. When I left Fort Knox, Ky., for Vietnam in 1967, the sergeant (a full-blood Navajo Indian) called me into his office and told me flat out, "Remember, Heinemann, this is not a white man's war." After I'd been in country seven or eight months, a lieutenant with a degree in history took over our platoon. He gathered us young sergeants around him and said that our job was to make sure that everyone got home in one piece. We told him that his was a very good plan and how could we help.

The awards for Purple Hearts were mostly initiated by the medical staff. A wound is hard to fake, and you didn't put in for a Purple Heart, it was given to you whether you wanted one or not, or deserved it. And anyone who went looking for a Purple Heart was called "John Wayne," and avoided like the plague.

The veterans who seem eager to go after John Kerry remind me of the guys who thought, and perhaps still think, that the war was a right and righteous undertaking, and ultimately winnable. But to say that we could have won the war is the same as saying that we didn't fill our hearts with enough hate. Remember: we were not pleasant people, down where the rubber met the road, so to speak, and the war was not a pleasant business. John Kerry wasn't the only veteran to come back from the war spiritually exhausted and morally outraged - ready, willing and able to denounce his own government for its conduct of the war. Well before the end of my tour in March 1968, most everyone around me knew the war to be a fool's errand, but if there was any antiwar sentiment it didn't get much more sophisticated than the vast and colorful repertoire of curses you cannot repeat in a family newspaper.

But we knew what we saw, we knew what we did, and we knew what we had become. Soldiering, the downward path to wisdom to be sure. In 1971, when John Kerry sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the essence of his message was exact: many a mean thing was done, sir, from the Oval Office on down, and in the spirit of meanness. We love our nation dearly, but oppose this terrible war. Our country seems to have forfeited its moral authority, and that makes our hearts sore.

And all these years later - the name-calling and nitpicking about wounds suffered and medals earned and honorable service aside - the important matter is that, when push came to shove, Lieutenant Kerry turned his boat around and drove back into a firefight to fetch an Army Green Beret out of the river. I know that if it had been me in the water, I would surely remember the man's name, the look on his face, and the reach of his arm for the rest of my life; I would be sure to tell my grandchildren about him.

Larry Heinemann is the author of "Paco's Story," which received the National Book Award, and a forthcoming memoir about his experiences in Vietnam.

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Aug 26, 2004

RNC Ramblings

Getting excited about the RNC Convention activities this weekend. I really think that it's gonna be a good kick in the ass to see all the folks who have committed themselves to making the point heard far and wide that we're not in support of:

1) the Convention being set in NYC
2) the military action in Iraq
3) this bozo president

It's like a desparate smoke signal that we're trying to send out (once again) to the international community that not all Americans think like the gun-twirling cowboy in office, or support the cadre of chicken-hawks from the past 3 decades that came home to roost when he was selected president. I read an article in the most recent New Yorker about the Iraqi soccer team (it's really a cool piece if you get the chance to read it - don't think that it's posted online, because they only put up limited content), in which the Greek olympic hosts make clear to American visitors that "We love Americans - but we hate your president." Maybe everyone needs that kind of reality check once in a while - there's a world out there of people who aren't thrilled to death about what the government of the USA has been doing in its people's names. It's time to take the power back.

The cover story of the NY Daily News today is "Anarchy, Inc: Hardcore Troublemakers a Threat to Republican Convention". Great. As if there aren't enough alert warnings, now we're going to lump together a few crazies with the rest of the hundreds of thousands who want to protest this whole shindig happening in the first place. NY Daily News - it's like Post-light! Actually, the post isn't so bad this time around - it's still focusing on the Laci Peterson case. I'm sure that they will cover the protests, especially if there's violence. I'm loathe to see the wrong side benefit from images of violence and chaos. Nixon had the cameras rolling as things got out of control in '68 Chicago. Who knows what will happen this week.

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Aug 24, 2004

the perils of scantron

Through my tinny laptop speakers:
Red, Hot + Rio!

Bedtime Reading that I shouldn't be doing right now:
Neil Peart: Traveling Music

I've been in so many meetings today at work that I can't think straight. Has kept me away from the computer for some of the time, which is very much my goal for the next month or so (though of course, I'll still be posting like a madman).

Studying for a standardized exam. Shhhh. It's a secret to anyone from work. I think. But I have to really kick it up a notch - it's been 6 years since I last took it, and I'm so slow now. Age is perhaps catching up with me? Or maybe it's just that overwhelming feeling of "this is stupid, and why should I waste my time studying the Princeton Review method, again?"

Nevertheless, the fearless protagonist of this here entry will push forward with great strength and considerable whimsy, until reckoning day on Gandhi's birthday. Still - I can't help but share this remarkable, relevant, and absolutely riveting story.

I can't wait for our trip to India, which we're trying to nail down for the end of the year!

Note to any roommate of mine who may be reading this entry: the last two sentences were in no way connected.

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Aug 23, 2004

The Elections and the Supreme Court

As a prospective Law Student (took the LSAT in 1998, and still waiting for the right moment) the question of who will replace retiring Supreme Court justices is of paramount importance to me. This piece in the Mother Jones Blog about Justice Clarence Thomas is just creepy. To quote from it:

Jonathan Ringel has just noticed a frightening little tidbit in Thomas' new biography:

[The most noteworthy part of the book is] a comment from Justice Antonin Scalia, whom critics have suggested is Thomas' ideological guide on the high court.

Thomas, says Scalia, "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period."

"If a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let's get it right," says Scalia. "I wouldn't do that."

It's worth spelling out how extreme this is. Most liberals probably assume that a Bush-appointed Supreme Court could only go so far in dismantling the existing legal order. After all, they still have to respect legal precedents, don't they? But according to Scalia, Thomas doesn't feel bound at all by past court decisions.

So that means, Thomas doesn't really care about what is on the books. If he doesn't agree with it, or if he believes that it's written poorly, it's open season to change it, regardless of whether there has been any legislative amendment or action to do so. I thought that conservatives were more strict about the interpretation of the constitution and laws on the books. Apparently not. Thomas is more a radical than most of the judges that have been labeled activist judges in the past. He must be neutralized.

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RNC Opening Day/Apple Brand Loyalty Vol. 1

So I think that we're gonna go out at least on Sunday for the massive protest, though I am definitely interested in some of the other actions that are happening (bugger our camera, which decided that now was a good time to stop working properly. I'm sure that dropping it didn't help. my partner again tells me that Mercury is in retrograde, which may explain why her laptop died on us y'day). Speaking of which, although the Apple stores look cool, the fact that this issue exists to begin with has opened up the first crack in my solid wall of brand loyalty that may graduate into a full-fledged fissure. Wow - hooked on phonics is really helping my alliterative skills.

But this is just classic, below:

Schedule for the opening day of the REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION

6:00 P.M. - Opening prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell

6:30 P.M. - Pledge of Allegiance

6:35 P.M. - Ceremonial Burning of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution (excluding the Second Amendment)

6:45 P.M. - Salute to the "Coalition of the Willing"

6:46 P.M. - Seminar 1: Katherine Harris on "Are Elections Really Necessary?"

7:30 P.M. - Announcement: Lincoln Memorial Renamed for Ronald Reagan

7:35 P.M. - Trent Lott - "Resegregation in the 21st Century"

7:40 P.M. - EPA Address 1: "Mercury: It's What's for Dinner"

8:00 P.M. - Vote on which country to invade next

8:10 P.M. - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh

8:15 P.M. - John Ashcroft Lecture: "The Homos Are After Your Children"

8:30 P.M. - Round table discussion on reproductive rights (Men Only)

8:50 P.M. - Seminar 2: "Corporations: The Government of the Future"

9:00 P.M. - Condi Rice sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"

9:05 P.M. - Phyllis Schlafly speaks on "Why Women Shouldn't Be Leaders"

9:10 P.M. - EPA Address 2: "Trees: The Real Cause of Forest Fires"

9:30 P.M. - Break for secret meetings

10:00 P.M. - Second Prayer led by Cal Thomas

10:15 P.M. - Carl Rove Lecture: "Doublespeak Made Simple"

10:30 P.M. - Rumsfeld Lecture/Demonstration: "How to Squint and Talk Macho Even When You Feel Squishy Inside"

10:35 P.M. - Bush demonstration of trademark "deer in headlights" stare

10:40 P.M. - John Ashcroft demonstration: New Mandatory Kevlar Chastity Belt

10:45 P.M. - GOP's tribute to tokenism, featuring Colin Powell & Condi Rice

10:46 P.M. - Ann Coulter's tribute to "Joe McCarthy, American Patriot"

10:50 P.M. - Seminar 3: "Education: A Drain on Our Nation's Economy"

11:10 P.M. - Hilary Clinton PiƱata

11:20 P.M. - John Ashcroft lecture: "Evolutionists: A Dangerous New Cult"

11:30 P.M. - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again

11:35 P.M. - Blame Clinton

11:40 P.M. - Newt Gingrich speaks on "The Sanctity of Marriage"

11:41 P.M. - Announcement: Ronald Reagan to be added to Mt. Rushmore

11:50 P.M. - Closing prayer led by Jesus Himself

12:00 Mid - Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Overlord

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Go Mohini!

Ok... so aside from the surreal fact that Pamela Anderson was supporting her, I think this is a great story about a young South Asian American woman who stepped up, didn't let barely missing the team in '96 stop her from Olympic dreams, and led the jittery team to a silver in Athens. Go Mohini!!

For Bhardwaj, it's all about redemption

Veteran steps up her role as leader in team's gold

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

ATHENS, GREECE - You could say she was the one who put
the Corona in the coronation for this suddenly
scrambling U.S. women's gymnastics team.

Mohini Bhardwaj is the beer-and-a-shot personality who
cuts through all the pixie dust and sets things right.

So intense and hungry for success, when she just
missed becoming one of the Magnificent Seven in
Atlanta eight years ago, Bhardwaj refused to watch the
team competition. She went to a bar instead.

full article

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A Chill in Florida

Another in a string of insightful articles by Bob Herbert about what's going down in the most publicized battleground of the bitterly fought 2000 election.


NY Times
August 23, 2004

The state police investigation into get-out-the-vote activities by blacks in Orlando, Fla., fits perfectly with the political aims of Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican Party.

The Republicans were stung in the 2000 presidential election when Al Gore became the first Democrat since 1948 to carry Orange County, of which Orlando is the hub. He could not have carried the county without the strong support of black voters, many of whom cast absentee ballots.

The G.O.P. was stung again in 2003 when Buddy Dyer, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Orlando. He won a special election to succeed Glenda Hood, a three-term Republican who was appointed Florida secretary of state by Governor Bush. Mr. Dyer was re-elected last March. As with Mr. Gore, the black vote was an important factor.

These two election reverses have upset Republicans in Orange County and statewide. Moreover, the anxiety over Democratic gains in Orange County is entwined with the very real fear among party stalwarts that Florida might go for John Kerry in this year's presidential election.

It is in this context that two of the ugliest developments of the current campaign season should be viewed.

"A Democrat can't win a statewide election in Florida without a high voter turnout - both at the polls and with absentee ballots - of African-Americans," said a man who is close to the Republican establishment in Florida but asked not to be identified. "It's no secret that the name of the game for Republicans is to restrain that turnout as much as possible. Black votes are Democratic votes, and there are a lot of them in Florida."

The two ugly developments - both focused on race - were the heavy-handed investigation by Florida state troopers of black get-out-the-vote efforts in Orlando, and the state's blatant attempt to purge blacks from voter rolls through the use of a flawed list of supposed felons that contained the names of thousands of African-Americans and, conveniently, very few Hispanics.

Florida is one of only a handful of states that bar convicted felons from voting, unless they successfully petition to have their voting rights restored. The state's "felon purge" list had to be abandoned by Glenda Hood, the secretary of state (and, yes, former mayor of Orlando), after it became known that the flawed list would target blacks but not Hispanics, who are more likely in Florida to vote Republican. The list also contained the names of thousands of people, most of them black, who should not have been on the list at all.

Ms. Hood, handpicked by Governor Bush to succeed the notorious Katherine Harris as secretary of state, was forced to admit that the felons list was a mess. She said the problems were unintentional. What clearly was intentional was the desire of Ms. Hood and Governor Bush to keep the list secret. It was disclosed only as a result of lawsuits filed under Florida's admirable sunshine law.

Meanwhile, the sending of state troopers into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando was said by officials to be a response to allegations of voter fraud in last March's mayoral election. But the investigation went forward despite findings in the spring that appeared to show that the allegations were unfounded.

Why go forward anyway? Well, consider that the prolonged investigation dovetails exquisitely with that crucial but unspoken mission of the G.O.P. in Florida: to keep black voter turnout as low as possible. The interrogation of elderly black men and women in their homes has already frightened many voters and intimidated elderly get-out-the-vote volunteers.

The use of state troopers to zero in on voter turnout efforts is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, in Florida. But the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Guy Tunnell, who was also handpicked by Governor Bush, has been unfazed by the mounting criticism of this use of the state police. His spokesmen have said a "person of interest" in the investigation is Ezzie Thomas, a 73-year-old black man who just happens to have done very well in turning out the African-American vote.

From the G.O.P. perspective, it doesn't really matter whether anyone is arrested in the Orlando investigation, or even if a crime was committed. The idea, in Orange County and elsewhere, is to send a chill through the democratic process, suppressing opposing votes by whatever means are available.

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Aug 22, 2004

What Volume Setting Does Your IT Guy Use?

I wonder what this would make me, given my taste...

Developers play air guitar to Megadeth
By Lester Haines (lester.haines at
Published Tuesday 20th July 2004 11:34 GMT

The latest research by "accelerated learning" outfit The Training Camp ( may be very silly, but at least it doesn't accuse piratical punters from downloading movies illegally from the Internet.

Nope, the Training Camp has uncovered some much more exciting facts regarding the musical preferences of those working in the wonderful world of computing. The company "took advantage of a captive audience of IT professionals to poll them on the contents of their portable music players".

Shockingly, the results of its poll among 200 students at the Training Camp's UK residential courses reveal that developers are malodorous headbangers playing air guitar to Megadeth, Microsoft Certified professionals get their rocks off to Britney while IT directors can be found sipping the finest wines while Mozart tinkles away in the background. No stereotype-fulfilling findings there, then.

Training Camp co-founder Robert Chapman said of this "iPod anatomy" research: "I’ve always suspected that there is a strong link between professional and musical orientation, which is certainly confirmed by this research."

Hmmm. There is argument which says that your musical tastes adapt to your job, rather than dictate your choice of career. We know of at least one Reg hack who came to Vulture Central with a fine ear and an profound appreciation of Baroque choral works, but was one month later found in a London pub, drunk, and dancing on a table to the Sex Pistols while police officers moved in with dogs and nets.

Sadly, the Training Camp survey does not note what IT journalists prefer on their playlist. Neither, scandalously, does it recognise what is taken as absolute fact among the IT community: that adsales boys, marketing directors and Strategy Boutiques in general prefer to brainstorm to the sound of whalesong. ®
Those results in full

Job: Microsoft-certified professionals
Favoured genre: Mainstream pop

Top three bands:

1. Britney Spears
2. Dido
3. Beyonce

Job: Security
Favoured genre: 60s "Alt" Rock

Top three bands:

1. Grateful Dead
2. The Doors
3. Hendrix

Job: Linux
Favoured genre: Electro

Top three bands:

1. The Orb
2. Underworld
3. Kraftwerk

Job: Developers
Favoured genre: Heavy Metal

1. Megadeth
2. Iron Maiden
3. Slipknot

Job: Database administrators
Favoured genre: Indie

1. The Smiths
2. Haven
3. Suede

Job: Project manager
Favoured genre: Rock

1. Pink Floyd
2. Queen
3. Rolling Stones

Job: CIO/IT director
Favoured genre: Classical

1. Mozart
2. Handel
3. Vivaldi

Original URL

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Aug 21, 2004

How Free Music Cost Me $25 Yesterday

On Audio Cassette:
Primus: Frizzle Fry
Bjork: Debut & Post

I've figured out that my taste itself isn't all that unconventional for the genres themselves, I think that it's the juxtaposition of many different styles and genres that makes it slightly more unusual than the next person. It's just that I'm so darn curious about music, and have been ever since my heady undergrad days when I was introduced to something new all the time. So if you're ever interested in sharing or trading - look me up.

Well - that's all good and fine, but yesterday, I think that my voracious appetite for music cost me a half-spent monthly metro card. I was walking home through the oppressive humidity when I happened to see a few open boxes of books and audio tapes out on the street, presumably for public consumption, should the public be so inclined to consume forthwith and so forth. So of course, I lean over and dig through the box, and find a dubbed version of Bjork's first 2 albums (which was opportune timing, considering that I'd just finished reading an excellent article about Bjork in the New Yorker, which I thoroughly enjoy reading, by the way (that will have to be another entry on another day, or perhaps - if this prolonged fit of procrastination reaches olympic proportions - later today)). I also found an original of Primus' debut album.

At any rate, I picked up my new acquisitions and skipped merrily homeward. Well perhaps the mode of transportation didn't happen quite like I said, but close enough. I got home, emptied my pockets, and stared at the place where my MetroCard wasn't. DAMN IT. It must have slipped out of my top pocket when I leaned over to root through someone else's garbage without bending my knees. Man, and I'm always warning my loved one (maybe she would use a stronger word) not to lose her monthly. I hate losing money like that. Or through the stream of parking tickets that we've been getting this year. Anyways - so the way I look at it, these tapes cost me about $25, since that's about how much time, pro-rated, I had left on the card (since it was a TransitCheck dealy). So THAT's why I'm gonna KEEP playing these tapes till the sun don't shine!

Speaking of which, it's finally raining in NYC, after 2 days of humidity so heavy it felt like gravity was sitting on your shoulders. The hard afternoon downpour is more welcome music than anything I could be playing right now, the caress of the breeze more refreshing than the sweetest summer cocktail. I love rainy summer afternoons. I can finally turn off our A/C and just sit with the windows open and lights out. Oh yeah. Lemme shut this thing off t...

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Aug 20, 2004

The Living Room Candidate

This is a fantastic online exhibit at the American Museum of the Moving Image - I'm really impressed by the array of ads. Check out some of the Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson ads... also - there's an amazing ad with Jackie Kennedy speaking pretty good Spanish - I am amazed that they did an ad in Spanish in 1960!

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Memoirs of an Orientalist

In My Ears:
Judas Priest:
"Green Manalishi"
"Electric Eye"
and a SLAMMING version of Ozzy's "Mr. Crowley"

OK - so granted, I haven't read the novel Memoirs of a Geisha so I shouldn't be doing what folks on the right are always doing to controversial artists, but come on. It's written by a white man, they've been schlepping around to find a lead actress, and I just think that it's catering to severely orientalist fantasies. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Well - it seems they've found their girl. Zhang Ziyi, best known for her breakout role in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is going to play the part.

All I can say is:

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Dubya speaks 8/18/04

From our wonderful chief-of-statefuddery...

"Let me tell you an interesting story, and then I promise to answer some questions. If Laura were here, she'd be giving me the hook. That's the way it is. Anyway, the Oval Office door opens up and in walks seven men from Iraq, all of whom had had their right hands cut off by Saddam Hussein. They had been to Houston, Texas, where a newscaster had -- a quite famous newscaster -- raised money and set up a foundation to help people. ... Anyway, so these guys walk in, you know, and I was emotional, they were emotional. And I said, why you? He said, that Saddam dinar had devalued and -- he was a merchant, a small businessman. I don't know if he was a sub-chapter S corporation or not, but he was a small businessman. And he had sold dinars on a particular day to buy another currency, euros or dollars, so he could buy gold to manufacture his product. And because the Soviet Dinar had devalued, Saddam Hussein plucked this guy out of society to punish him, and six other small merchants, for the devaluation of their currency. He just summarily said, you're it, come here -- and cut his hand off."

-- Featured here is inappropriate goofiness in relation to the subject of people losing their limbs under repression in Iraq, culminating in a completely unnecessary reference to sub-chapter S corporations, and just for fun, Dubya invents a new currency: The Soviet Dinar. Hudson, Wisconsin, Aug. 18, 2004

Quote and commentary courtesy of DubyaSpeak.

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Aug 18, 2004

Make your own Hollywood star.

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Aug 17, 2004


it's a gorgeous, glorious day outside - the kind that makes you just feel like it came about solely to remind you of how beautiful the world is, and how lucky you are to be a member of it. I may be a bit bleary-eyed from my exhaustion, a bit downcast about my current situation outside of home, but I am blessed otherwise. Keep the sun in focus, and the clouds on the horizon may seem more behind you than in front.

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Iz Beautiful

Digital Rotation:
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"

This song was featured in the ER episode in which Dr. Mark Greene died. It was also in Meet Joe Black, though I haven't seen it. And finally, I have heard that it was featured in a commercial recently. I heard it this past weekend at the friend's wedding that we went to - as part of the home video they created from bits and pieces of old videos (I would be really surprised if it weren't created on iMovie, because our friend is a big Mac head too). It's just achingly beautiful, like a song sent into the wind with a yearning that reminds me of only a few other songs that I have loved so dearly (David Gray's "Please Forgive Me" ranks in this category, and "Why Should I Cry For You" by Sting). I strongly recommend that you buy this song from iTunes, or at least make me give it to you - it's a keeper.

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Aug 16, 2004

The Olympics and Socially Conscious Athletes

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos
raise fists for Black Power in 1968. (Source: AP)

It was the most popular medal ceremony of all time. The photographs of two black American sprinters standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Games in 1968 not only represent one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history but a milestone in America's civil rights movement.

The two men were Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Teammates at San Jose State College, Smith and Carlos were stirred by the suggestion of a young sociologist friend Harry Edwards, who asked them and all the other black American athletes to join together and boycott the games....

Still impassioned by Edwards' words, Smith and Carlos secretly planned a non-violent protest in the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 200-meter race, Smith won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze. As the American flag rose and the Star-Spangled Banner played, the two closed their eyes, bowed their heads, and began their protest.

Smith later told the media that he raised his right, black-glove-covered fist in the air to represent black power in America while Carlos' left, black-covered fist represented unity in black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power. The black scarf around Smith's neck stood for black pride and their black socks (and no shoes) represented black poverty in racist America....

This image, and the story behind it remind me to ask: where are the athletes nowadays who are willing to forego their millions in advertisement and movie deals (while masterfully dodging resposibility as role models to America's youth) and take the risk to speak about social injustice and civic engagement in some meaningful way.

What do we have nowadays? Carlos Delgado isn't on the field during "God Bless America" to protest the American invasion of Iraq. But that's a personal choice that's getting blown out of proportion - he's not an activist, just like other athletes in faith who don't tell the world about their praying habits aren't preachers.

In 1995, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets was ostracized for not being around for a stretch of 60 games when the National Anthem was played. His career never recovered from the criticism that rained upon him at that time.

Where are our Muhammad Ali's, Paul Robeson's, and others of that deep professional skill and depthless personal conviction for speaking truth and pushing for what is right?

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Aug 13, 2004

Collateral Damage from Loquacious Company

Digital Rotation:
Nina Sky: "Move Ya Body Girl" (it's just so catchy!)

Entertaining a guest from India for the weekend. Ends up that it's D's nephew through a cousin. He's a good kid, but seems to have an opinion on every topic. Sometimes, I have patience. Other times, I act out. He got to me about 24 hours after staying here. I told him flat out that he was wrong about why India had to use chemicals to grow crops. Why do I get into these arguments? Maybe next time, I should just smack him, and claim generational privilege when he thinks to retaliate.

We saw Collateral by default (I, Robot had already started). Good flick - Tom Cruise turns in a great performance as a steady and intense anti-hero. I think that he should go more for these roles. For some reason, I think that it really suits him now. It was believable (sorta like when Brad Pitt plays different characters than usual - ie: Fight Club).

Made me think a bit about existence and purpose - made me think about stopping all this thinking, and just doing.

Felt like a circular argument.

Brain froze up.

Had to reboot.

Think I'll keep thinking about it, in a background printing (background thinking?) kind of way.

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Aug 12, 2004


So I got to see Rush last night, even though there were storms all around the NYC area, and getting there was a 2 hour ordeal. It was a great show - which I sorta expected, but they had more in them than I had pegged them for, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't find anyone to take D's extra ticket, but it was okay in the end, and it was great to see some old friends from my hometown after a long time.

It seems that everytime I see someone at Jones Beach, there's a storm brewing and just about to break. More crazy lightning effects, as I've had in the Sting/Annie Lennox show last month, and the Seal show in 1995. Woah. Let's see - I also saw Tori Amos there, and The Cure.

Well - just doing some reading on Rush's 30th Anniversary, and HERE'S something trippy for you:

Geddy Lee didn't know it at the time, but on his 21st birthday -- July 29, 1974 -- he and his bandmates hit a career lottery.

That was the day Neil Peart joined Lee and Alex Lifeson in their band Rush.  When Peart replaced drummer John Rutsey, he cemented a lineup for the Toronto-based trio that has lasted for 30 years, with Lifeson on guitar and Lee on bass and lead vocals.

I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!! Neil Peart joined Rush the day before I was born, and that is the birth of the line-up that's stuck through for the past 30 years. I can't believe the coincidence... reminds me of how I used to think that it was weird that Bruce Lee died the same year that I was born (don't ask me why), but THIS - THIS is something else.

So here's a list of some of the songs Rush played... Between the Wheels, Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, Spirit of the Radio, YYZ, Subdivisions, Roll the Bones, Animate Me, The Trees, Bravado, Dreamline, Vapor Trails, The Seeker, EarthShine, Secret Touch, Red Sector A??, Mystic Rhythms...

There was just no way that I could write the songs down - and it was a 3.5 hour show - so come on! But they were good, and the end segment of the show (last hour or so) was really quite enjoyable - the setlist is below in order...

19. drum solo
20. resist (acoustic)
21. Heart of Soul (acoustic)
22. 2112 overture & sphinx
23. La Villa Strangiato
24. bytor and the snowdog
25. xanadu
26. working man
27. summertime blues
28. crossroads
29. limelight

Really something else that they can still kick it, and fill the sound out with just the three of them.

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Harold and Kumar go to White Castle


I received this article from someone about another reading of Harold and Kumar... I see the point here, and have to rethink some of what I saw (not all of which I was comfortable with when I was watching, but I see that I was more willing to put it on the back burner, perhaps because of the lack of funny Asian American (hetero) males on the screen angle)... but at the end of the day, that's not good enough. Reminds me of Better Luck Tomorrow, in which I was perturbed about the senseless Asian on Asian violence (especially baseball bat to the head, which just brought up strong feelings about how so many hate crimes against Asian Americans involve blunt objects and our heads (shout to TD for always reminding me of that, and of those who have fallen just trying to live their lives)). I think that got to me immediately and tainted the rest of the film experience for me.

Maybe this is all about John Cho. He's the missing link.

Holla if you have thoughts on all of this...

FROM JULY 26, 2004

Yo - I just saw this flick, and I definitely recommend it. It's not that deep, but who the hell cares? It's funny, and there's enough ruminating on the -isms in the books in my library, so I want to have a laugh once in a while. If you haven't gone, fork over the $10 and support our peeps on celluloid!

New York Times
'Harold and Kumar': A Dumb Stoner Comedy for a New American Century

July 25, 2004

THE plot of "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,"
succinctly summarized in the movie's title, consists of an
amusing, anarchic grab-bag of road-picture mishaps and
low-comedy gags. Many of the comic elements are predictable
(dumb stoners doing dumb, stoned things, sexual come-ons
and gross-outs of various kinds) while others are less so,
like the part when Neil Patrick Harris, playing himself,
starts licking the headrests on a Honda.

But a clever bait-and-switch early in the film signals its
sly subversive intentions. Its director is Danny Leiner,
who made "Dude, Where's My Car?," and he seems at first to
pick up more or less where that movie, or any of its
illustrious predecessors going back to "Porky's," left off.
An ex-frat boy type, with a roomy office in a New York
high-rise, is finishing up his work week. His pal,
immediately recognizable as the wilder half of a classic
buddy-movie pair, shows up proposing a fun-filled weekend
of babes, booze and bong hits. But what about that big
report due on Monday? No problem: just dump it on the
Korean guy in the far cubicle. Our hero is free to pursue
the carefree debauchery that is his birthright.

Except, of course, that the pale-skinned frat boy type is
not the hero at all. He and his friend (who happen to be
played by the screenwriters, Hayden Schlossberg and Jon
Hurwitz) are walk-on doofuses who pretty much walk out of
the movie, leaving it in the hands of that unassuming
Korean guy, Harold. He turns out to be the more uptight
half of a classic buddy-movie pair - the wilder half is his
roommate, a South Asian former pre-med named Kumar - intent
on claiming their own share of carefree debauchery. In the
process, they pretty much revolutionize the
slacker-stoner-comedy genre.

Well, perhaps that's a bit grandiose, given that what
Harold and Kumar really want to do, after a few Friday
night tokes, is satisfy a powerful case of the munchies, an
urge that leads them deep into the wilds of New Jersey and
lands them in all kinds of trouble. But the movie's
apparently simple shifts of racial and generational
emphasis - replacing the traditional white (or, in recent
variants, black) teenagers or undergraduates with
Asian-Americans in their post-college years - at once upend
the conventions of youth-oriented goofball comedy and
revitalize them. "Harold and Kumar" is as delightfully
stupid as "Friday" or "Road Trip" or "Wet Hot American
Summer," but it is also one of the few recent comedies that
persuasively, and intelligently, engage the social
realities of contemporary multicultural America.

In some ways, Mr. Leiner, Mr. Hurvitz and Mr. Schlossberg
and their stars, John Cho and Kal Penn, are broadening a
venerable tradition of ethnic humor, trafficking in
stereotypes and sending them up with equal verve. The
stoners down the hall, for instance, are a pair of
fast-talking former yeshiva boys who fire up a shofar for
some Sabbath eve toking. On a pit stop in Princeton, Harold
is dragooned into attending a meeting of an Asian-American
student group, whose painfully earnest members pepper him
with geeky questions about his investment banking job.
Harold, confronted with the specter of his own squareness
and conformity, manages to flee, only to miss out on the
group's subsequent activity - a raucous, uninhibited party,
with drugs courtesy of the geekiest kid in the bunch. (The
spectacle of good students behaving badly presents a tamer
version of the studious Asian-American teenagers gone wild
in "Better Luck Tomorrow," Justin Lin's 2001 drama of
honor-roll hoodlums, which featured Mr. Cho and which is
name-checked in "Harold and Kumar.") The filmmakers are
happy to laugh at Harold's buttoned-up careerism and
cautious deference to authority, and also at the fact that
Kumar's immigrant family, obsessed with the need for him to
get high marks and make good impressions, seems to be
composed entirely of physicians. But they also lash out -
in remarkably good humor, it must be said - at the lazy,
bigoted perceptions that bedevil Harold and Kumar in the
course of their all-night odyssey.

The prejudice that Harold and Kumar encounter - expressed
by a carload of extreme-sports headbangers and by doltish
New Jersey law enforcement officers, among others - is more
a matter of inconvenience, of moronic uncoolness, than
oppression. And in fighting back against it, Harold and
Kumar are motivated less by a sense of wounded pride or
profound injustice than by a familiar individualist
exasperation. They just want hamburgers (and sex, and
decent weed and a good time) - which is to say they want
what is theirs by birthright as young, affluent, reasonably
good-looking American consumers. Though they are
occasionally abused and insulted, they also carry with them
assumptions of social privilege, intellectual capital and
economic opportunity. They share a decent apartment in
Hoboken. Harold has a spiffy silver Honda (at least until
Doogie Howser gets a hold of it) paid for by his white
collar, Wall Street job, while Kumar dawdles on the way to
medical school, supported by his father while he indulges
in a bit of late-adolescent rebellion.

At first glance they could be poster children for early
21st-century American diversity (either that or marijuana
legalization), except that the very word would totally kill
their buzz. The impressive thing about "Harold and Kumar"
is that it takes such blithe account of the fact of
multiculturalism while having very little use for the
concept. Or really, given its proud adherence to the
standards of its genre, for any concept at all. It's not
quite that ethnic differences don't exist, or that they're
no big deal - being insulted or mocked or made to feel
invisible has a way of turning into a big deal. It's more
that belonging to a certain group has no inherent meaning
and brings with it no particular obligations of behavior.

Whether confronted with racial taunts or with group
expectations, Harold and Kumar tend to react by rolling
their eyes. This stuff just gets in the way. In college
campuses across the country, students today are carefully
taught about the dangers of demeaning, negative imagery and
about the historical marginality of nonwhite groups in a
popular culture that has seen them as villains, clowns or
nameless extras. The trailers for "Harold and Kumar" take
satiric note of this tradition, identifying Mr. Penn as
"that Indian guy from `Van Wilder' " and Mr. Cho as "that
Asian guy from `American Pie.' " The movie itself picks at
a few political scabs, as when the heroes share a jail cell
with a racially profiled African-American lawyer who
serenely schools them in the hierarchies of American social

But the baggage of victimhood isn't really part of Harold
and Kumar's nightlong road trip. Nor is the identity crisis
that is a virtual requirement of immigrant literature. The
kinds of books that Harold and Kumar would have been
assigned to read in college, whether about Jewish-, Asian-,
Italian- or Latino-Americans, feature a conflict between
the traditions of the old country and the alluring freedoms
of the new world, between customs that offer both
confinement and continuity and choices that promise both
liberation and loss. It's a durable tradition, stretching
back to David Cahan's tales of Lower East Side striving in
the early 19th century, through the anxious early novels of
Saul Bellow and Philip Roth into the work of writers like
Gish Jen and Sandra Cisneros, and it has become a staple of
the post-Dead White Males literary curriculum. The dominant
flavor in the melting pot is bittersweet, as the comedy of
cultural collision is anchored in the pathos of yearning,
betrayal and loss. In the movies, this predicament plays
out in popular English domestic comedies like "Bend It Like
Beckham" and "East Is East" and in warm, inspirational
American dramas like "Real Women Have Curves" and "What's

In most cases, those conundrums of assimilation are happily
resolved, as the young protagonists of those films - and of
the novels that tread over similar ground - find a way to
balance the demands of home and the lure of the world, to
move on without forgetting where they came from. What is
striking about "Harold and Kumar" is not that these issues
are resolved differently but that they never really come
up. The drama of hyphenation does not interest Harold and
Kumar at all. They have more important things to worry
about, like escaping from group sex with a hideous,
boil-covered tow-truck driver, fending off a rabid raccoon
and, above all, finding that elusive fast-food restaurant
where all desires can be satisfied. In the future, a term
paper will no doubt be written about the racial
connotations of the name White Castle, about the way in
which its elusiveness represents the mirage of
assimilationist aspirations and its ultimate attainment
suggests the terrible double-bind of American pluralism -
all of which is fine. But really, the thing is - dude,
they're hungry.

And why should they be any different from anybody else? Why
shouldn't they crave a sack of sliders, dabble in hip-hop
slang and sing along with bad 80's pop songs on the
tapedeck? Why shouldn't Harold have a crush on the lovely
young woman (Latina, by the way) who lives down the hall
and with whom he shares silent, longing-filled elevator
rides? The slap-happy conventions of youthful lowbrow
comedy and the easy inclusiveness of consumerism conspire
to dispel the stale clouds of identity politics.

Which is not to say that "Harold and Kumar" is altogether
unconcerned with matters of identity. Comedies of young
male recklessness situate their humor on the perennial
anxieties attached to growing up, and their celebration of
regression - all those wild weekends and crazy,
misadventurous road trips - is a way of fighting off that
anxiety. Harold and Kumar's journey is an ordeal of
embarrassment and frustration, of evaporating sexual
opportunities, humiliations and miscommunications, that
ends, in keeping with the rules of the genre, with
reassurance, satisfaction and the acceptance of
responsibility. The bullies get told off, the burgers get
eaten and that frat boy who thought he was the hero learns
that that big report is still due first thing Monday

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Aug 11, 2004

Things to tell Greenpeace Volunteers

Digital Rotation:
Rush (whatever I've got - Concert TONIGHT)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: By The Way
RATM: The Battle of Los Angeles
The Killers: "Somebody Told Me"

OK... so this isn't relevant to anything that I've lived through in the last couple of weeks, but you ever see those folks canvassing for support for Greenpeace? For some reason, they hit the Financial District area pretty regularly. My pal and former co-worker ABgie once walked by them and after speaking with them for a bit, pulled out his wallet, saying "you know what? you've convinced me, and I want to donate". They backed away - "we can't take cash". Well - they lost a supporter right there!

Anyway - I sorta get annoyed, even though I like that they are canvassing down here, because the granola college students that they have working may not know that not EVERYONE isn't hip to the progressive and radical environmental movements. And with the support of pop stars like Sting and Bono, they have had more play than some of the other groups (except, perhaps, for the Sierra Club, who in a bold move by some members who showed their true xenophobic colors early this year, had a very public internal debate about US population stabilization and its relationship to immigration control, for which these members came forward as supporting, and ended up getting support letters and statements across this great land from Neo-Nazis, xenophobes, and racists who said "welcome aboard the S.S. Know-Nothing!").

Anyway - so I get annoyed sometimes, and being the wise-ass that I am, I've come up with a new response. When I'm accosted by Greenpeace who ask "do you have a minute for Greenpeace?", I tell them "I think that Greenpeace is too conservative. You should quit this gig and work for E.L.F."

So far (used 2 times) it hasn't really elicited much meaningful repartee, but I'm always hopeful. Yup. That's me. Opening up the younger generation to new ways of looking at things.


In other news, back in my bad habit, working the 9 to 6 shift for the sub-Man. Hey - I know I shouldn't complain and that I'm lucky to be in this racket at all, but hell - I'll complain if I want! I think that I'm scaring some folks into thinking that I'm growing a bit bitter, but I don't think that's a real problem here. I went through a bit of a rough patch a whiles back, but I've got my head on straight - If I don't know where exactly I'm headed, at least I see the open road stretching out before me, as I walk to leave the dark dismal gloom of Mirkwood behind me.

Going to see Rush tonight with an old friend. Getting excited about the show. Just have to survive another 2.5 hours before I can get out of here.

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Aug 6, 2004

Bruce Springsteen op-ed in the NY Times this week

What can I say? There is only one Bruce Springsteen. I'm proud to call myself a fan, and blessed to have been more fully introduced to him through D. Read on...

NY Times

August 5, 2004

Chords for Change

A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be American: about the distinctive identity and position we have in the world, and how that position is best carried. I've tried to write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures.

These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out.

Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach?

I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith.

People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.

Bruce Springsteen is a writer and performer.

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